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Continued: Tony-winning director Diane Paulus goes to the circus with 'Amaluna'

  • Article by: ROHAN PRESTON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 21, 2013 - 6:09 PM

Two years in the making

Cirque was an answer to a prayer.

“I was interested in working for Cirque. I admired their work and I knew that I’d have many more new muscles stretched,” she said. Paulus led the development of the show over a two-year period, starting in 2010.

Typically, in Cirque shows, a quarter of the cast is women, she said. In “Amaluna,” which has a cast of 50, the ratio is reversed.

“I spent two years scouting talent — contortionists from Africa, twins from Spain,” she said. “I wish I could’ve traveled to all those places. But in the age of the Internet, you sit in a room and look at five hours of YouTube videos. When Cirque selects artists and they sign on, they bring their skills and in certain cases, their acts.”

Acrobatic Ukrainian juggler Viktor Kee was already was well-known before he was tapped by Cirque. In “Amaluna,” he plays a half-human, half-lizard character inspired by Caliban.

“He has his act and he juggles, but the personage, the costuming around him and his place in the narrative were all developed for the show,” she said.

Cast from 17 countries

Paulus wanted to make clear that while this show celebrates the strength, beauty and power of women, everyone is welcome.

“The biggest challenge working on a show like that was the fact that we’re working in an international setting,” she said of a cast of 117 that hails from 17 nations. “There are artists and performers from Spain, China, Russia and Japan who spoke no English. You’re directing in a space the size of an airplane hangar, so you have to be on a microphone. Anything you say gets translated in four languages simultaneously. It’s like the United Nations going on.”

She bonded with the interpreters because, she said, “If I’m speaking passionately but if the interpreters did not understand or translate that passion, then you lose a lot. In the end it was extremely rewarding to see a cast of young kids from China who’d never left the country performing side by side with French boys and American girls and Russian contortionists and clowns from Spain. They all take care of each other.”

“Amaluna” underscores the larger ethos of Cirque, said company manager Jamie Reilly.

“Back at headquarters, we have 4,000 company members from 50 different countries,” she said. “We celebrate difference and use that to create mesmerizing shows.”

 

Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390



 

  • related content

  • Amy McLendon in “Amaluna,” a new Cirque du Soleil show directed by Diane Paulus, below, and playing through Oct. 20 in Bloomington.

  • AMALUNA

    What: Directed by Diane Paulus.

    When: 8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 4:30 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1:30 & 5 p.m. next Sun. Ends Oct. 20.

    Where: North Lot, Mall of America, Bloomington.

    Tickets: $40-$130. 1-866-624-7783.

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